Bill Todd, Business Development Manager for WiseTech Global, gets to the root of what harms your business, taking the essential first step in forging successful change.
Uncovering our prospective clients’ real pain points can be a daunting task. Finding out why their businesses aren’t truly prospering depends largely on finding the right time, place, and person to have an open and frank discussion about the root causes that hold them back. Change takes incredible effort, and it’s only worth it if you know exactly why you’re doing it.
As is often the case, the world can be divided into two groups. As far as business pain points go: you are either ‘in the know’ or ‘in denial.’ Some logistics company owners know exactly where the process failures are and how these affect their operations and their customers. Then there are those who only think they know, but tunnel vision keeps them from seeing the real issues.
Businesses ‘in the know’ are quick to share their pain points. They tell me:
“We need integrated financials to reduce double entry.”
“We want to move to a web-based solution so we don’t have to maintain our own hardware.”
Beyond eliminating the productivity issues that stem from data entry, most areas for improvement are typically customer-facing: system integration, automated notifications, communication.
“We lost two major accounts because we weren’t able to provide EDI.”
“We need to have more robust internal and external reporting tools.”
“We need real-time tracking to compete in our market segment.”
Find the Right Time, Place, and Person
If I’m to help drill into the bedrock of an organization’s pain points, I have to take the time to get the right person, or people, in the right place at the right time to find that layer of honesty, so they can be open about what’s really going on in the company.
In smaller operations with 100 users or less, the management is generally closer to the action and more familiar with their clients’ needs. They’re examining their business from the best angle to see the potential problem areas more clearly.
In larger organizations, however, from the top-floor boardroom with the president, COO, CEO, and CIO, you can really only see the surface, not what’s underneath. There may be an understanding of the larger, generic pain points, but the details are hidden.
Because no one wants to place blame on a colleague in public, top management will frequently say they have no underlying pain points; but the deeper I dig, layer by layer, department by department, the more I’m likely to find. It’s vital that I understand the roles and responsibilities of the line managers, that I have the chance to share areas of expertise.
“Tell me about your work processes.”
“What would you change in your department if you could?”
“Are your clients satisfied with your performance?”
It’s questions like these that elicit the meaningful observations about day-to-day operations that expose why they need a new system.
“How often do your people work outside your system to get their jobs done?”
This last question really gets everyone’s attention. I know of organizations that, despite having a ‘best of breed’ software solution, still print static pdf forms and fill them in with a typewriter before scanning them back into the system.
All the steps of the logistics chain can now be incorporated within automated workflows: configurable, secure, and efficient. So, even if you feel comfortable with your current processes, every time you work outside the system is a clear indication that your system could be better.
Even if you’re making money, with little to no idea why or how you’re making it, you should be aware that profitability can hide a lot of problems in its shadow. They may not be pain points yet, but you should watch them closely.
Results: More Than Just a Promise
You’ve heard the IT-angled sales pitches and claims about boosting efficiency, productivity, and profitability for years, but you need more than words, explanations, and promises. Savvy forwarders, brokers, and carriers now seek expert software vendors who understand the pain points that prevent their business from reaching its potential.
You don’t want to waste time with theories and sales pitches; you want to see exactly how these cloud-based applications will save money, reduce manual work, automate routine tasks, and bring countless other benefits that bring an end to your pain points once and for all.
The next time your business feels some pressure, some pain, find the software vendors who ask the right questions and use the answers you give to diagnose what’s really not working and what could improve. Then you’ll know you’re on the right path to move your business forward.
Bill Todd is Business Development Manager for WiseTech Global
Media Contact: Lisa Tree, firstname.lastname@example.org